The government’s advisory Outbreak Management Team has told ministers that face masks should be worn by everyone in nursing homes and everyone should be tested on a weekly basis – if there is a local outbreak.
The recommendations follow new research carried out at Amsterdam’s UMC medical centre into dealing with a regional outbreak and the impact on nursing homes in particular.
The tipping point for when the rules should be implemented has not yet been finalised, but according to the researchers, it would already apply in Amsterdam, where there have been nearly 1,200 cases in the past week.
‘We know how serious the virus can be in nursing homes,’ geriatric medicine professor Cees Hertogh told broadcaster NOS. ‘And we cannot permit ourselves to end up in that situation again.’
There are some 2,500 nursing homes in the Netherlands and at the height of the pandemic, 900 of them were dealing with coronavirus cases. That has now reduced to around 100. At least 2,000 nursing home residents are thought to have died because of the virus.
Hertogh and his team found that around half the cases in nursing homes were not picked up when only people with symptoms are tested. ‘It is extremely difficult to identify Covid-19 in people with dementia, and they make up some 70% of residents,’ Hertogh told broadcaster NOS.
Health minister Hugo de Jonge told reporters on Tuesday evening that OMT’s recommended measures would be adopted.
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